Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Lentil soup twofer ~ 3.26.11

I happened upon this next recipe way back in 2006 in the pages of Real Simple magazine. I thought it sounded so different with the combination of sweet potatoes and kale and lentils! I knew I had to give it a try.

Happy to report that I've been making this recipe regularly ever since. I don't often use kale because I seem to think of this recipe when I have leftover fresh spinach to use up from my fridge. I also decreased the amount of leeks as 4 seemed a bit much and 2 works out perfectly. I've taken some pictures of the process of adding the ingredients for you b/c all those veggies are just so beautiful as you add them to the soup and they were just begging for their photograph! ;)

The original recipe...

Winter Lentil Soup

2 leeks, white and green parts only (see recipe for how to wash leeks properly)
1 bag of spinach (or kale)
1 Tbs olive oil
1 28oz can whole tomatoes
6 cups water
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/2 cup brown lentils
1 Tbs fresh thyme
2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
12 fresh basil leaves (optional, but oh, do they add an amazing dimension)
1/4 cup grated parmesan (optional)

1. Begin by prepping all your veggies: slice your leeks, lengthwise, then slice each half into 1/4 inch half moons. Place in a large bowl filled with water and swish to remove grit. Lift leeks out and repeat. Drain them on a towel and pat dry (I use my Softworks salad spinner to dry them). Remove any thick stems from the spinach (or kale). Stack the leaves and slice them into strips (Actually, I don't even do THAT... I just throw them in the pot!). Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into chunks.

2.Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with the juice (don't throw the can out yet!) and break up the tomatoes with the spoon or slice them with your kitchen shears in the pot. Cook about 5 minutes more.

3. Use your tomato can and add a whole can of water (about 2-2 1/2) cups. Then add 4 more cups of water and bring to a boil. Using the can helps to clean it out and you add any juices you left in there when you dumped in the tomatoes! Now recycle it or sit it by the pot and stick your wooden spoon in it, like I do.

4. Add your sweet potatoes...

your lentils and thyme

And your spinach, salt and pepper and the basil, if using (throw the stems your chopped off in there, too, you can fish them out later- add GREAT flavor!)

5. Simmer all of this until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. I leave the lid on and cracked just a bit to let some steam out, but check to make sure too much liquid doesn't evaporate!

6. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

I highly recommend you have some crusty bread on hand to eat with your delicious soup!

Here's another favorite lentil soup for you to try from the pgs of Martha Stewart everyday food.

Lentil Soup

3 strips of bacon (or use reserved bacon grease from your fridge!)
1 lg onion, chopped
3 med carrots, peeled and cut into half moons
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs tomato paste (I use the squeeze tube, but whatever)
1 1/2 c lentils, picked over and rinsed
1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 1 tsp fresh chopped)
2 cans reduced sodium chicken broth (3 1/2 cups)
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
S &  P

1. In a large pot, cook bacon over med/low heat until browned and crisp (8-10 min). Pour off all but 1 Tbs fat (if you have your bacon grease, obviously skip this step and proceed to #2)
2. Add onion and carrots and cook until softened, about 5 min. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 sec. Stir in tomato paste, cook 1 min.
3. Add lentils, thyme, broth AND 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Cover; cook until lentils are tender 30-45 minutes.
4. Stir in vinegar, 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Taste and season again if needed. Serve immediately! Can freeze.

I like mine with a nice loaf of crusty bread and sprinkled with parmesan cheese on top! (hmmmm... that sounds familiar)

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